OPINION: Panic! At The Disco - A “Pretty Odd” Downfall
Editor’s note: Ellie writes about the disbanding of controversial alt/rock band Panic! At The Disco using opinions of her own, the public and fans alike.
No matter your taste in music, it’s guaranteed that you will have heard at least one Panic! At The Disco Song.
Whether it be “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” or the later 2011 single “The Ballad of Mona Lisa”; Panic! At The Disco has had an immense and undeniable influence on emo and alternative music.
This therefore begs the question, why are so many people, including fans, happy following Brendon Urie’s decision to end the band for good?
Truthfully, many believe Urie has been flogging a dead horse since his second to last album Pray for the Wicked, some believe it happened even before then.
Older fans rejoice knowing that Panic!’s originally alternative sound will no longer be tainted by songs like “High Hopes”.
The significance of the split is best contextualised by taking a look at the history of Panic! At The Disco.
The band was formed in 2004 by high school friends Ryan Ross and Spencer Smith, later featuring Brent Wilson before bringing in Brendon Urie following a search for a replacement guitarist.
From this, Panic!’s first studio album was born: the masterpiece that is A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out.
Ross was originally meant to be the band’s lead vocalist but it was later decided that Urie would be instead. Many arguably believe this to be a bad decision.
However, it led to Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz noticing the band and signing them to his own label, resulting in their first release being a commercial success.
A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out had a unique sound, combining elements of pop punk, electronica and baroque pop to create a lyrically complex blend of love and angst, done so by Ryan Ross’ Palahniuk-esque songwriting.
The only appropriate followup to this album was the dreamy, folk-inspired Pretty.Odd in 2008.
Armed with new bassist Jon Walker, the album was teeming with strings and acoustics, and even featured Ryan Ross on vocals in songs such as “Behind the Sea'' and “Northern Downpour”.
Panic!’s complexities shone in Pretty.Odd, but the band started to go downhill following this high, as Ryan Ross and Jon Walker left to create band The Young Veins, citing creative differences.
Panic!, consisting only of Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith, went on to release Vices and Virtues. The album was received well by fans as it preceded Urie’s countless controversies.
Featuring more pop influences, yet an undeniable presence of Ryan Ross’ ideas, Vices was a hit.
Songs like “The Ballad of Mona Lisa '' stood out as Urie started to display his full, impressive range more. Things were looking up for Panic! At The Disco, despite their distinct lack of members.
However, criticism started to come in following the release of the 2013 album Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die.
Songs had grungy lyrics and catchy tunes, courtesy of the songwriting of new bassist Dallon Weekes, who contributed heavily to the album, particularly when Spencer Smith left the band to go to rehab.
It didn’t go unnoticed that Urie took most of the credit for their fourth studio album, even changing song meanings from Weekes’ original intent, and following conflict, Weekes left the band completely in 2017.
Thus leaving Brendon Urie to take on the fifth album solo. Fans were still ultimately faithful, the discourse with Weekes was rather hush-hush, and Urie’s voice was still show stopping.
In fairness, Death of a Bachelor was not a bad album; songs like “Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time” and “Emperor’s New Clothes” were tuneful, and Urie sounded great throughout the album.
Death of a Bachelor was a commercial success, but the Panic! At The Disco name began to be tainted by Urie’s subsequent releases.
Many believe that albums Pray For The Wicked and Viva Las Vengeance ruin the name of Panic! At The Disco.
The reasoning for this? Underwritten songs and strained vocals combined with a monotonous, pure pop tracklist.
It has to be admitted that some songs, especially High Hopes, were a huge hit according to mainstream media.
However, the sound of Panic! that older fans knew and love is gone.
The personality of Panic! is also gone, with Urie’s once happy-go-lucky character being overshadowed by assault allegations, mistreating coworkers and saying slurs.
Urie’s reputation died years ago, which is why the demise of Panic! At The Disco is something many people are thankful for.
In a time where My Chemical Romance, Paramore and Fall Out Boy thrive, perhaps the loss of Panic! At The Disco is a minor one for emo music.
What are your thoughts on Panic! At The Disco’s breakup?